Getting treatment for addiction is only the first step on the long road to successful addiction recovery. Once you complete treatment, learning to live in recovery is like finding your way in a whole new world. Early recovery can be lonely, confusing and stressful at times. In this early stage, it’s especially important to make the right choices that will push your life in a positive direction. Two important aspects of this are finding a new group of people to hang out with and finding a living situation that will be supportive of your recovery.
Meeting Sober Friends in Recovery
Becoming sober will inevitably cost you a few friends as you realise that many of your relationships were based around using. The people you once hung out with who are still abusing drugs and alcohol aren’t conducive to your addiction recovery – it’s essential to surround yourself with sober peers who have shared experiences and whom you can rely on for support. Sober living can feel lonely at first, but overcoming feelings of isolation is essential, as loneliness is one of the most common relapse triggers.
Of course, forming a whole new social circle is easier said than done. We’ve compiled these tips to help you meet new friends who share your values and know how to have sober fun.
Where to Find Sober Friends
1. Regularly Attend Recovery Meetings.
Finding a support group in your local area is important for recovery, but it can also be a great place to meet like-minded people.
2. Seek Out Sober Meet-ups.
Check online for sober meet-ups in your area, which can include getting together to participate in sports, outdoor activities, concerts, travel, or attending a BBQ where you know everyone shares at least one thing in common — sobriety.
3. Hit The Gym.
Of course not everyone you meet at the gym will be living sober, but someone who heads to the gym after a long day at work instead of a bar is more likely to have habits aligned with sober living.
4. Check Out the Bookstore or Library.
Try hitting up a library or bookstore on a Saturday night. If you enjoy reading, this can be a great place to meet like-minded people. Even if you’re not a huge reading fan, browsing magazines or having a late night dessert in the bookstore café could lead to conversations with other people who’d rather not spend their Saturday night getting wasted.
Not only is volunteering great for the community and great for your well-being, it can also be a great place to meet new people. Whether you’re walking dogs or serving those in need a hot meal, people who are willing to give their time for a good cause may share other values with you, too — like sober living, or at least a life not fully immersed in alcohol.
6. Go Online.
Whether you frequent online recovery communities to chat online, or browse sober online dating sites, there are tons of online resources and support forums for people in recovery. If you plan to meet people from the internet in person, however, just be sure to exercise caution. And if you think you are ready to start dating, be sure to follow our guidelines for dating in recovery.
Another great way to meet people, or to share time with sober friends, is to travel. Travelling sober for the first time can be scary, especially if binge-drinking holidays were a common part of your past. Travelling could bring up cravings to use drugs or alcohol again which is why it’s best to travel with a sober group, or go on a sober vacation, and always make a plan to use your supports and attend meetings while travelling.
Where to Find Recovery-Supportive Housing
For some, you may have a family waiting at home for you when you return from treatment. In these cases it’s important to involve your family members in your treatment so they can fully understand the best way to support you in recovery.
For others, you may be heading back to an empty apartment, or in more dire cases, no place of residence at all. If this is what you’re facing, you need to consider if living alone is really going to support your new life in recovery. With no one at home to hold you accountable, and no one to distract you when you are experiencing cravings, you are at higher risk for relapse. Which means you may want to consider finding a sober flatmate, or living in a sober house directly after your addiction treatment.
1. Sober Houses
Living in a sober house after treatment has been proven to increase chances of a long-term recovery. But first – what is a sober house?
Whether referred to as a sober living house, sober living home, halfway house or sober house, all of these names refer to a drug and alcohol-free community living environment that’s intended as a transitional living phase for those who’ve completed treatment at a residential rehab.
Each housing centre has its own set of rules and regulations, but most encourage (if not require) regular attendance of recovery meetings. The better ones offer in-house counselling services or group meetings, among other activities that aid recovery. The length of time that you may decide to stay in a sober house varies, but 30 to 90 days is often the recommended duration in order to reap the full benefits.
Benefits of living in a sober house include:
Easing the transition back to ‘normal life’
Building a sober support network
Additional therapy and support
While very beneficial, sober houses are not long-term solutions. As well, although there are many sober houses all around the world, you may not be able to find one in the area in which you wish to live. Whatever the case may be, if a sober house isn’t for you (or you’ve finished living in a sober house and are looking for long-term accommodation) finding a sober flatmate can be a great option.
2. Sober Flatmates
Living with any flatmate will, of course, ease the financial burden of paying rent. A flatmate can also make a home feel a little less lonely. But living with someone who parties, drinks and even dabbles in drugs or alcohol can set you up for relapse — which is why living with someone who has a similar lifestyle is imperative.
The trouble lies, however, in not only finding someone who’s living a sober lifestyle, but someone you’re also compatible with. To make things easier, California-based Roommates in Sobriety, has created an easy-to-use site that essentially offers two options — post a flatmate profile, or post a property that is in need of a flatmate. The flatmate profile consists of basic information such as name, sex, age, desired area to live, personal info including job and hobbies, and last but not least — sober time.
The benefits of living with a sober flatmate are similar to those of sober houses, but on a long-term basis.
Relapse Prevention in Sober Living
It’s important to remember that while in most cases being around other sober people will be a benefit to your recovery – you are still (recovering) addicts. This means that you must look out for others who are showing signs of heading towards relapse – the last thing you want is for someone to drag you down into a relapse as well.
It’s so important, especially when living with a sober person, that you’re upfront and honest with each other about your own relapse prevention plans, and aid each other in carrying out a healthy lifestyle that promotes long-term recovery. And remember – if you ever think your friend or flatmate is putting you at risk for relapse, get them to call a sponsor, and then get out! Your own recovery depends on it.
(This article is the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”; they are its original authors)